Candidates keep a close watch on media coverage, tracking issues of importance to their local constituency. This makes writing an op-ed an effective way to reach policymakers and candidates alike about important issues relevant to medical and biological engineering.
- Every sentence counts. Get to the point: Why does your topic matter? Why should it matter today?
- Share your expertise. If you have relevant qualifications to the topic you’re addressing be sure to include that in your letter. If you are a biomedical engineer at a local university—share that information up front.
- Make a call to action. Open your letter by advocating for your position. Then wrap your piece by explaining what you think needs to happen now, make your call to action.
- Be persuasive. It is important to have a clear thesis, in the service of a persuasive argument. Avoid “on the one hand, on the other hand” statements. Op-ed pages are for one-handed writers.
Keep in Mind…
- Keep your op-ed brief, concise, and compelling. Get to the main point in the first two sentences. Keep your sentences short and your paragraphs tight. Your op-ed should be 700-800 words.
- Be timely. Respond to issues that are currently making the rounds in the newspaper.
- In your own words. Take the time to write the piece in your own words.
NYT: Falling Short on Science
The New York Times published an op–ed by Maria Zuber, PhD, vice president for research at M.I.T., that reminds readers of the effect of federal budget uncertainty on America’s leadership in sciences and technology. After discussing the US as a global competitor, Dr. Zuber writes, “We cannot continue to advance the frontiers of knowledge and lead the world in innovation without funding for students and equipment, and when the only long-term federal commitment is to fiscal uncertainty.”
The Hill: America Must Get Out of the Woods on Medical Research Funding
Claire Pomeroy, MD, MBA, president of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, wrote an op–ed in The Hill that urges readers to support “all the agencies playing critical roles in advancing medical research.” In the article, Dr. Pomeroy points out that “the research pipeline that delivers medicines and healthcare technologies involves an interdependent network of federal agencies,” further asking readers to “support the NIH and the entire network of federal agencies and institutions whose mission is to ensure the public’s health.”
- Most newspapers post guidelines and addresses for submitting op-eds electronically. Include text within the body of an e-mail – attachments are usually discouraged.
- Some newspapers ask for your picture, so please include a high-resolution image along with the piece.
- Submissions need to be exclusive to one media outlet, so don’t approach a second publication until you’ve been declined at the first one. You may stipulate at the top of your piece that you will offer it elsewhere if you don’t hear back within a certain period of time – three business days, for example.
- Make sure to include your contact information and a brief line on your credentials.